Batman #100 review

It’s his greatest triumph. After a full-on battle with his arch foe, he lives to fight another day.

Happy Birthday, dear Joker…

Batman may as well not be in this book, for how effective he is.

Batgirl looks good, reviving her Oracle persona.

Nightwing, his memories restored, gives the Joker’s goons a good kicking.

Red Hood. Spoiler. Orphan. Signal. All doing a good job.

Harvey Bullock too.

Even Harley Freaking Quinn fights back against the evils of the Joker.

But Batman?

Sorry, he can’t beat the Joker. Even temporarily – send the Clown Prince of Crime back to Arkham once and for all and he could be off the board for, oh, maybe as long as two months.

It’s depressing, if predictable. DC writers are ridiculously in love with the Joker, condemning his acts while fetishising his violence. Batman, meanwhile, is pretty pathetic. He doesn’t appear until halfway through the story – the final chapter of Joker War – and you might expect his arrival to turn the tide. But no, as happens far too often, the frail felon can somehow hold his own in a very physical fight with Batman. Even Harley Quinn notices how off his game the Caped Crusader is.

Ohhhh, he was only pretending to be a bit rubbish.

Yeah, right.

Perhaps there are good story reasons Bruce seems, yet again, broken. I don’t know, I’ve not read this series for a few months – I was sick of the Joker. I do know that in a hero’s hundredth issue they should get the big win.

I did enjoy lots of the above moments. Plus, the old chemistry between Dick and Babs. The nattiness of some guy named Underbroker. The lack of Damien Wayne.

I even enjoyed a line from Alfred, who seems to have gone from corpse to chatty clown prop.

But I am so, so sick of the Joker.

I’m not sick of the art of Jorge Jimenez, who was great on Super Sons a few years ago and has only become a better comic artist. His illustrations are packed with detail – just look at all those police cars around Bullock – while his dynamic battle scenes are up there with the best. The extremely annoying Punchline, his artistic creation, benefits from Jimenez’ passion, her bratty sultriness lighting up the page. And there’s a frightening intensity to the Joker. His Batman, too, post-Joker tussle, looks formidable, benefiting from the daylight reflected on him by colourist Tomeu Morey. And Clayton Cowles’ stylish lettering adds to the visual feast that is Batman #100.

Tynion teams with other artists for a couple of shorts that serve as epilogues/prologues. With penciller Carlo Pagulayan and inker Danny Miki, he brings us Intervention, in which Batman catches up with a teenager who’s been, it seems, beating Joker acolytes to death as the Human Chicken… sorry, Clownhunter. Can’t have a kid like that running free, obviously.

Batman disagrees that Clownhunter should be locked up for his community-minded slayings, recommending young Bao Pham tries therapy with all-purpose doctor Leslie Thompkins. She obviously did Bruce Wayne a power of good.

And with that, Batman swoops away, leaving Clownhunter to plot in lower case, the mark of a true villain.

Then, we catch up with Joker, who – say it ain’t so! – survived an explosion set by Harley. He’s watching a video made by Punchline, illustrated by Guillem March.

Blah blah blah. Joker reckons she’s playing it clever, preparing prospective jurors to be lenient. I’d say she’s being ridiculously transparent.

Mind, the Batman in this book would probably speak up in her defence.

James Tynion is a good writer. When he gets wordy, I rub my hands with glee at the value he’s adding to my reading experience. And he obviously has a vision for Gotham. But like Scott Snyder and Tom King before him, apparently, he’s playing the long game; originally slated for around 14 issues, Tynion has seen his run extended indefinitely. And good luck to him, it’s brilliant that he’s committed to introducing new ideas and characters, while polishing up older ones – Babs as Oracle once more, for example.

But every time a writer plays the long game, they put Batman on the back foot, deny him the big wins. And here it is again, a centenary celebration in which Batman fails to beat his greatest foe, lets a kill-crazy kid stay on the streets and is nowhere to be seen as Joker starts a new reign of terror.

I enjoyed this comic. Heck, even if between that amazing wraparound cover by Jimenez and Morey were 48 empty pages, I’d feel I had my money’s worth. I just wish it has left me with a smile on my face.

3 thoughts on “Batman #100 review

  1. This is my first issue since a few issues after King aborted the marriage for stupid reasons and since I did so for the supporting cast I didn’t notice Bruce seemed off. I thought it clever how Harley tried to get Mister J killed though. Bruce would have stopped any direct attack from her!

    Here’s hoping Babs hangs up the cowl and is Oracle again for good. With Didio and Johns gone, no one is fetishizing the original holders of the mantles anymore. I think this worked out good with The Flash (Wally’s story was done and even his fans agreed since even they didn’t show up for the book that featured him adventuring with his kids) but Babs and Hal didn’t need to supplant superior replacements.

    And as to the rest of the supporting cast, the fake animated corpse was a hoot and I have to ask if the artist was asked to shoe horn in The Signal with no one telling Tynion. Did he get one word of dialog or any acknowledgement he was even there by anyone else? Maybe Tynion views this character as a big waste of panel space too…

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    1. Oh and the Joker showing was a waste of space since we’d been told he survived and just an excuse to have him kill an innocent bystander. I also dislike Punchline nearly as much as The Signal. Her appearances in Nightwing were like fingernails on a chalkboard. I think I read two panels of whatever she was saying and stopped…

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    2. Poor Duke. It’s seems he’s destined for a spot on that Nobody’s Favourite website; given how many Robins there are, it’s weird he didn’t to be a Robin, even after being in We Are Robin. The Signal power set is obtuse and opaque, the hero name is dumb… and then get gets thrown into an Outsiders team. Doomed.

      It could be worse, he could be one of the super-annoying Rowe siblings.

      I’m all for Babs as Oracle, she’s so much fun. If memory serves DC has tried three time’s since 2011 to give us a new Oracle and it’s never taken. There only one Oracle and that’s Babs.

      It’s ridiculous how Tynion was telling us Punchline was a massive hit before she had a proper appearance.

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